In a year characterised by greater uncertainty in the Norwegian economy, Sparebanken Møre once again delivers solid numbers. At year-end 2015, the Core Tier 1 capital was 14.2 %, up from 12 % at the same time in 2014.
The profit after tax for the fourth quarter of 2015 amounted to NOK 122 million. This represents 0.82 % of average total assets, compared to NOK 127 million, or 0.91 %, for the corresponding quarter last year. The cost income ratio for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 38.8 %, which represents a decrease of 3.5 percentage points compared with the fourth quarter of 2014.
The return on equity in the fourth quarter of 2015 was 10.3 %, compared to 11.0 % last year. The earnings per equity certificate amounted to NOK 6.20 (NOK 6.40) for the Group and NOK 4.20 (NOK 4.00) for the Parent Bank.
Good results over time
The preliminary accounting figures for 2015 show a profit for the year after tax of NOK 503 million, compared with NOK 623 million for the year before. The results for 2014 included NOK 94 million in profit from the sale of the shares in Nets AS. Total assets increased by 6.8 % and amounted to NOK 60.1 billion at year-end 2015.
"Cost efficient operations, low losses and highly skilled advisers with local knowledge have produced good results for a long time. Good financial strength ensures us freedom of action, while it also reassures customers in turbulent times," says the chief executive of Sparebanken Møre, Olav Arne Fiskerstrand.
Growing in the retail market
Last year, Sparebanken Møre saw net lending growth of 4.9 %. Lending to retail customers grew by 8 %, while lending to corporate customers dropped by 0.7 %. At year-end 2015, the retail market accounted for 67.5 % of the Bank's total lending portfolio.
A major digital project was completed last year in order to enable customers to use the Bank as they want to. A new online bank and new webpages were launched which allow loan applications to be electronically signed, as well as facilitate customer service through chat and secure email in the online bank.
"The digital development will continue at full speed in the future as well, and there is little doubt that we need to be strong within this area. At the same time, our strategy is clear that we will be the very best at personal service. This means we also have to be present where our customers are, with both branches and highly skilled advisers", says Fiskerstrand.
Reduced volume of problem loans
Net interest income amounted to NOK 1 098 million for 2015, an increase of NOK 5 million compared with 2014. Other operating income amounted to NOK 205 million, compared with NOK 315 million in 2014. In addition to the profit from Nets AS in 2014, the reduction is attributable to reduced mark to market value on the liquidity portfolio of NOK 51 million.
In November an agreement was signed for the sale of the shares in Visa Europe Ltd to Visa Inc. Sparebanken Møre has as a member in Visa Norway FLI assessed our owner interest which gives right to remuneration as a financial asset, and has estimated the value of this asset to NOK 42 million at year end. The value adjustment is recorded in other comprehensive income in 2015.
In the last few years, the Bank has seen a steady decrease in the level of costs. Costs were reduced by NOK 3 million in 2015 and at year-end 2015 the cost income ratio was 43 %. Fiskerstrand is very satisfied with the success in keeping costs at a low level, despite the high level of activity in the last year.
"It is also very positive that the thorough work that has been done in reducing loans in default has had such clear results. In 2015, we reduced net problem loans by NOK 86 million," he reports.
Driving force in the local community
In addition to facilitating personal contact between the Bank and the customer, Sparebanken Møre also focuses heavily on building relationships between the Bank and the local community. The proposed allocation of the profit for 2015 sets aside NOK 115 million for the benefit of culture, sport, talent development, teaching, research and business development in the county.
"In a county brimming over with good ideas, socially useful projects and enthusiastic commitment, this is not work that we want to put on pause. We have recently also signed a new, expanded agreement with the Young Entrepreneurship project on teaching economics in school. The Bank possesses valuable knowledge that the schools want – and that the youngsters need. This project is therefore a good example of a mutual beneficiary partnership between business and education," says Fiskerstrand. The Board also recommends paying out a cash dividend of NOK 11.50 per equity certificate for the 2015 financial year.
The economic outlook for Møre og Romsdal has weakened slightly in the last few months. This is due to expectations of somewhat lower growth in the international economy in 2016 than previously assumed. Oil prices have also continued to fall. On the other hand, the weakening NOK exchange rate is helping to improve the competitiveness of our export industries and import-competing businesses. The drop in, and continued low level of, interest rates will improve purchasing power in the household sector and reduce interest costs for the corporate sector. These are factors that could partly counteract the negative effects of the fall in the oil sector and oil-related activities.
"In a county like ours, it is very important to understand the prospects of the various industries in our region. With a good annual result for 2015, highly skilled staff with local and industry knowledge, and good digital solutions among our tools, we have a solid basis for enjoying a good year in 2016 as well," concludes Olav Arne Fiskerstrand.
Key figures for Q4 2015 (Comparable figures for Q4 2014 in brackets)
- Net interest income: NOK 279 million/1.87 % (NOK 282 million/2.03 %)
- Profit before losses: NOK 195 million (NOK 187 million)
- Profit after tax: NOK 122 million (NOK 127 million)
- Return on equity: 10.3 % (11.0 %)
- Cost income ratio: 38.8 % (42.3 %)
Key figures - 2015 accounts (Comparable figures for 2014 in brackets)
- Net interest income: NOK 1 098 million/1.89 % (NOK 1 093 million/2.01 %)
- Profit before losses: NOK 742 million (NOK 844 million)
- Profit after tax: NOK 503 million (NOK 623 million)
- Return on equity: 10.7 % (14.0 %)
- Cost income ratio: 43.0 % (40.1 %)
- Core Tier 1 capital ratio: 14.2 % (12.0 %)
- Lending growth in the last 12 months: 4.9 % (5.7 %)
- Deposit growth in the last 12 months: 3.5 % (1.1 %)
- Earnings per equity certificate (Group): NOK 25.25 (NOK 31.20)
- Olav Arne Fiskerstrand, CEO, Mobile: +47 900 18 299
- Runar Sandanger, EVP, Head of Treasury and Market, Mobile: +47 950 43 660
- Tone S. Gjerdsbakk, Chief Information Officer, Mobile: +47 990 44 346